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Neuropsychology. 2003 Apr;17(2):221-9.

Bilateral eye movements enhance the retrieval of episodic memories.

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Department of Psychology, University of Toledo, Ohio 43606, USA.


Two experiments examining effects of eye movements on episodic memory retrieval are reported. Thirty seconds of horizontal saccadic eye movements (but not smooth pursuit or vertical eye movements) preceding testing resulted in selective enhancement of episodic memory retrieval for laboratory (Experiment 1) and everyday (Experiment 2) events. Eye movements had no effects on implicit memory. Eye movements were also associated with more conservative response biases relative to a no eye movement condition. Episodic memory improvement induced by bilateral eye movements is hypothesized to reflect enhanced interhemispheric interaction, which is associated with superior episodic memory (S. D. Christman & R. E. Propper, 2001). Implications for neuropsychological mechanisms underlying eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (F. Shapiro, 1989, 2001), a therapeutic technique for posttraumatic stress disorder, are discussed.

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